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Production Numbers: As They Apply to "Singin' in the Rain"
By: Michael Massey

"Singin' in the Rain" incorporates a variety of production numbers. A production number is a musical number that combines singing and some form of choreography or dancing. Most production numbers usually include costumes, lighting, special effects, and large casts.

My favorite number from "Singin' in the Rain" is the wacky "Make 'em Laugh." It opens as Cosmo Brown (Donald O' Conner) tries to cheer-up his best friend, Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly). This number highlights O' Conner at his physical and comic best, as he sings and dances his way across a movie set. He does flips off of walls, spins on the floor, and falls over things only to bounce right back. This colorful display could be best described as a jazz version of break-dancing.

"You Were Meant for Me" is a sentimental duet between Lockwood and his love interest, Cathy Seldon (Debbie Reynolds) .The song illustrates the deep connection between the two characters. Soft music and lighting, and wind add to the romantic atmosphere. The number is preformed in the Astaire-Rodgers style, which is inspired by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers. The two are famous for their sappy duets in many '30s films like "Shall We Dance?" (1937.)

The most well known and title cut of the film is "Singin' in the Rain." It is an uplifting solo featuring the wondrous Kelly. Lockwood travels out into a downpour after leaving Seldon's home. He is so content and in love with Seldon that he is oblivious to the rain. This simple, emotionally direct solo is classified as Garlandesque. The term Garlandesque was coined for Judy Garland, who is famous for such touching solos like "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" from "The Wizard of Oz" (1939.)

The biggest of the production numbers in "Singin' in the Rain" is "Broadway Ballet" (the 't' is silent.) It stars Kelly and the transcendent Cyd Charise, as a gangster's moll. This massive production number intertwines scene changes, dramatic lighting, saturated colors, and a cast of hundreds, literally. Its grandiose, surrealistic approach is typical of the Busby Berkeley production style. Berkeley was a choreographer for countless musicals and became famous for his Broadway-inspired large-scale numbers. "Broadway Ballet" cost and astounding $600,000, one fifth of the movie's intended budget.

"Singin' in the Rain" is not only one of the best musicals of all time its also one of the greatest movies ever. It is fully deserving of these labels and many more. It's hard to tell a good story on film and "Singin' in the Rain" takes it up a notch by telling an entertaining story through captivating musical performances. Not many musicals have ever presented both story and musical numbers in such a flawless way.